Look out of number one. First come, first served. I need my space. These are just a few attitudes so prevalent today. When it comes to heading out each day, society practically begs us to always consider “Me first.” Inward focus is the order of the day, thus we become stars of our own social media pages, updating our status and sharing an abundance of selfies. Not to be out done, even celebrity evangelists find ways to increase their fame by teaching us how to become a better you, because God wants us to live our best life now. The struggle for greatness, success, and social status seems to be at an all-time high. But as scripture teaches us, Jesus isn’t concerned with our greatness.
Conventional thinking leans towards self-preservation and sufficiency. Through his life, death and resurrection, Jesus turned conventional thinking upside down. To become great means one must become insignificant. To become first, one must be willing to be put last and instead, offer his or her life in service of others. Jesus taught and modeled this behavior throughout his earthly ministry. He was clear in his instructions, but even his disciples at times seemed to miss the point.
The debate concerning greatness among the twelve illustrates to us that competition, selfishness and jealousy have been always been problems. We see it in the history of Israel throughout the Old Testament, in arguments between the twelve and through two thousand years of church history. Even within the church today we experience abuse of power and authority. All of these only serve to get in the way of real mission and ministry.
Jesus says we are to put the needs of others before our own. As long as we discriminate between people, as long as we judge some more important than others, as long as we desire to be more important ourselves, we block out what God is calling us to do and be. Jesus came taking on the role of a suffering servant. He came to touch, to embrace, to heal, to forgive, to help, and to love, even when he knew it would take him to the cross.
Our prayer should not be such that we desire to become greater, more prosperous or influential. God is fully able and fully willing to give us what we need in life. For the purposes of his mission, God often works through the insignificant and humble to do great things. Understanding this, our prayer becomes much different.
Humble us, O Lord, that we might love and serve our neighbor. Make us your servants, fitting us for greatness in your kingdom. Amen.